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From the Office of Communications

This article first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here. 

A federal appeals court’s ruling that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional is “a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters,” said Virginia’s two Catholic bishops.

WTOP reported that a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled July 28 that state constitutional and statutory provisions barring gay marriage and denying recognition of such unions performed in other states violate the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia gay marriage case is one of several that could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo said in a statement released after the ruling they “once again affirm what our 2,000-year-old faith teaches: that all men and women are endowed by our Creator with equal dignity and worth.

Bishop Anniversary“We maintain that those with same-sex attractions must be treated with respect and sensitivity,” they said. “However, by rejecting the state amendment, which affirms marriage as the unique institution between one man and one woman, the Court seeks to redefine an age-old institution, rooted in natural law, and extend a right that does not — and cannot — exist between people of the same sex.”

The bishops said that marriage has survived for countless generations because it uniquely benefits the common good by recognizing the union of two different but complementary individuals – that is a man and a woman – who, by their union, may create a family.

“Indeed, by its very nature this institution is ordered toward the regeneration and survival of the human race. For that reason Virginia’s constitution rightly recognizes the unique contributions marriage – the union of one man and one woman – makes to children and to the common good.”

The bishops said they will continue to affirm the truth about marriage, the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as well as the importance of marriage to the common good.

“As pastors, teachers and faith leaders, we can do nothing less,” they said. “We will continue to fight this unjust ruling.”

Circuit Court Judge Henry F. Floyd said he recognized that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life,” he said.

Floyd was joined in his majority ruling by Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory. Their colleague Paul V. Niemeyer dissented and called the ruling “fundamentally flawed.”

The ruling upholds a decision by District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen. It won’t take effect for 21 days to allow for a request for a rehearing or a stay. It was not immediately clear if or when the state would need to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Virginia case is unusual because state Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) announced shortly after taking office this year that he agreed with the challengers that the state’s restrictions are unconstitutional.

In 2006, Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent to approve the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Virginia laws also prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.

To see the statement in full, visit the Virginia Catholic Conference’s website here.

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at Saint Jude Syro-Malabar Church in Centreville.

I treasure a small icon given to me as a gift, depicting Saints Peter and Paul embracing one another. Their embrace reveals their unity or one-ness of faith in the Lord Jesus and of love for Him and His Church. Indeed, they were one, yet very diverse in their temperaments, talents and roles of service within the Church. Nonetheless, each one — Saint Peter and Saint Paul — is clearly a model for us to imitate as we travel together, disciples of Christ Jesus united in faith and in love.

Cavalier d'Arpino - Madonna and Child with Sts. Peter and PaulSaint Peter was — and is — the source of unity within the Community of Christ’s Disciples, the Church. He is the source of unity in faith. When Jesus Christ asked His disciples at Caesarea Philippi: “But who do you say that I am?”, it was Peter alone who professed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Authentic disciples of Jesus Christ are united fundamentally by their profession of this same act of faith: “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, the Very Son of the Living God.”

Saint Peter is also the source of unity in leadership within the Church. In response to his profession of faith, the Lord Jesus clearly announced: “… and so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” By these words, the Lord Jesus appointed and confirmed Saint Peter to be the visible head of the Church, His Vicar on earth, the first among equals within the College of Apostles.

This role of leadership has continued down through the centuries; each successor of Saint Peter, the one who is the Bishop of Rome, the one we call “Holy Father” or “Pope”: he is the visible sign of unity in leadership within the Church Universal. Authentic disciples of Jesus Christ are united fundamentally by their communion with Saint Peter’s successor.

Saint Peter is likewise the source of unity among all Christ’s disciples: forming as they do the Universal Church as well as forming a particular diocesan Church. This unity is achieved through the union of each diocesan Church with the Church of Rome and all the other diocesan Churches. Every Eucharistic Prayer expresses this communion when it directly and clearly prays for unity between Francis our Pope and Paul our Bishop, by the members of the Arlington Diocese, or Jacob our Bishop, by the members of your Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago.

Saint Paul was — and is — the icon of evangelization. Persecutor of Christians turned convert, Saint Paul was irresistibly drawn to Jesus Christ and became passionately in love with Him. This conversion and deeply personal union with Jesus within the Community of the Disciples impelled Saint Paul to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to everyone and to the farthest bounds of his world. Yes, Saint Paul was passionate, zealous, determined, on fire with love for God and others, on fire to evangelize! And he remained so to the end, as we heard again in today’s second reading: “I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”

So, what lessons can we learn from Saints Peter and Paul?

(1) Saint Peter: Are we united by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Each day, through countless circumstances we are being asked: “Who do you say that I, Jesus Christ, am?” What is our real response? Our actions tell us! Are we united with the leadership within the Church? With our Holy Father, and with our proper bishop? Their style or approach in accidentals does not really matter. Are we listening to their teaching about faith and morals? Are we seeking to foster unity in faith by our concrete witness in daily life? Do we give to the Lord and to His chosen representatives our “obedience of faith”?

(2) Saint Paul: Are we daily seeking to be turned towards Jesus Christ more fully, to be converted, to be re-evangelized? Do we experience the joy of the Gospel, a joy rooted in our daily encounter with Jesus Christ? Are we eager to share the love of Jesus Christ and His message of hope and life with others? In a word, are we heralds and protagonists of the New Evangelization, our hearts on fire?

As members of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago, and this local visible expression, the Saint Jude Catholic Church here in Centreville, are you on fire to proclaim by your daily witness: “You are Christ, the Son of the Living God” and to invite everyone to come to know and love Jesus within the Community of His Disciples, the Church?

One final lesson to be learned. We are in the midst of the United States Bishops’ third Fortnight for Freedom, an extended period, from June 21 through July 4, for us to pray, to become more informed, to dialogue, and to witness for the cause of religious freedom, here in our own country and beyond. The freedom of religion is the first freedom. When the answer to the question “Who am I?” is “a disciple of Jesus Christ,” then every other action of ours flows from that identity. If I am not free to answer God’s call to love fully as Christ’s disciples, then all my other freedoms lose their meaning. Why have free speech if we cannot speak in praise of God? Why have freedom of association if we cannot gather as two or three and have Christ present among us?

It is our first freedom not simply as Catholics, but also as Americans. It is our first freedom because it comes first in our Bill of Rights — the guarantee of our freedom from an established state church and our freedom to exercise our religion without state interference. It is our first freedom as Americans because it was the reason why the first settlers came from England, so that they might be free to practice their beliefs free from the threat of oppression and governmental coercion.

At the same time, we can never allow our rights — even our right to freely worship — to become merely a political club by which we beat back our political or ideological enemies. We have rights in freedom because we have duties in love. Freedom of religion is not rooted merely in some sense of personal spiritual fulfillment. It flows from the duties we have as children of God to respond to His providence.

We serve our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends, our community and country best when we exemplify Christ the obedient Son who carries out the will of the Father. Our country is stronger and our people better when Christians are free to be images of Christ to the world, in our faith in God and our charity towards others. We know that our religious freedom is not some selfish design to fulfill our own plans, but our generous response to the love we have received from God. And so we insist on our rights in liberty not simply for our own sake, but for our neighbors and for the generations to follow. This is freedom’s ideal — that we are free to pursue the truly good, and so to serve the common good. This is why the theme for this year’s Fortnight for Freedom is “Freedom to Serve.” Please make your voices known in upholding and defending religious freedom.

Yes, the icon of Saints Peter and Paul is much more than a beautiful image of these two saints embracing each other in the unity of faith and love, although it is that in a very concrete way. The icon is the call and challenge to imitate Saints Peter and Paul, surrendering in faith to Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior; proclaiming Christ to everyone; and upholding and defending religious freedom. It is fundamentally and ultimately to live what we believe, not only in the private sector of religious worship, but also in the public square of concrete witness and involvement — for the common good and the salvation of the world!

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This homily first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

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By: Kathleen Yacharn

Generally, it’s much easier to get someone to tell you about a bad time they had at a restaurant, a hotel, an airline or concert venue than it is to get someone to tell you about the good time they had. Most of us don’t bother with writing online reviews for the decent or even great meals or stays we had. But why is it that usually within a day or two of an uncomfortable time with a rude server, long wait, or bad food, we’re signing up for an account on Yelp or Urban Spoon, ready to unleash our righteous anger, of course as a civic duty to help others avoid the place?

Isn’t it because people are so much more motivated by strong emotion than by satisfied entitlement? When we have even a great time, we might tell a few people, but isn’t that what we expected in the first place? Instead of appreciating the good things in our lives, we take them in and move on with a sense of complacency, which unfortunately bleeds into our civic and moral lives, too.

sleeping babyFor those of us who believe in protecting God’s creation, from conception to natural death, we have to be careful to avoid that cultural complacency. If we are pro-life, then we have to live that truth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not just once a year during the March for Life. We have to communicate the message tirelessly because it is a matter of life and death and anything less than ceaseless effort can tip the scales in people’s hearts and minds toward the great lie that is the culture of death.

I write this asking you to take the time today, literally just a few minutes, to support life in a meaningful way. The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s two bishops. Bishop Paul S. Loverde of our Arlington Diocese and Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Richmond Diocese. They need you to comment on yet another machination of the abortion industry trying to promote their cause at the expense of the lives of innocents. Read below the VCC’s request, share it with your friends, and truly support life today.

 

Your Comments Needed as Abortion Center Regulations Review Begins

The Virginia Department of Health is now reviewing the recently enacted abortion center health and safety regulations (several years before regulations are typically reviewed) due to a recent directive from Governor McAuliffe. 
Click here to tell the Board of Health that this review process is premature and that these commonsense regulations must be maintained. Public comments will be accepted until July 31, 2014.

Again and again, the abortion industry claims that these regulations are unnecessary and expensive. Yet, inspections of these abortion centers repeatedly reveal health and safety violations that are endangering Virginia women.


One particularly egregious violation was uncovered during a biennial 
licensure review inspections at one Virginia abortion center. The abortion center’s complication log revealed that 15 of the 18 complications recorded in January 2014 were “incomplete medical terminations” (RU-486). In 11 of those cases the women returned for another chemical abortion, while 4 women decided to have surgical abortions. RU-486 is only approved by the FDA to be used in the first 49 days of pregnancy with a “failure” rate of 8%.  This incredibly high complication rate puts women’s well being at great risk. If these abuses are occurring while abortion centers are regularly inspected, imagine the conditions with no regulations! Please click here to tell the Board of Health to maintain all the regulations because the abortion industry cannot self-regulate.


If you are not a member of the Conference’s advocacy network, click 
here to receive regular Conference email alerts and updates. Please like us on Facebook, follow@VACatholicConf on Twitter, and sign up for our blog at www.fromthetibertothejames.wordpress.com.

In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you.

~~~
The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses.

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By: Kevin Bohli, Director of Youth Ministry

This past week the Arlington Diocese Office of Youth Ministry sponsored the 25th annual WorkCamp in Quicksburg, Va. More than 800 teens, 250 adult leaders, and 100 contractors spent a week repairing homes at 150 worksites. The teens spent the past eight months fundraising and preparing to leave behind their cellphones and video games, sleeping on hard floors, waiting in lines for food and showers, and doing hard physical labor in the 90+ degree weather. The week included daily Mass, regular prayer, and devotions five times each day. Eucharistic Adoration, Confessions, talks and reflections took place each evening, and there were two chapels available for personal prayer time throughout the day.

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On the worksite from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the teens built wheelchair ramps, replaced roofs and windows, repaired bathroom showers and toilets, patched floors, and many other projects designed to help make the residents’ homes warmer, safer, or drier.

This is hardly a typical first week of summer break for teenagers.

At the end of the exhausting week, the teens were invited to provide feedback on their experience. Here is just a small sample:

“Had the time of my life, no doubt!” –Brian

“I had a really good experience here and I really appreciated going to Confession. I haven’t been in 10 years, so I’m really glad that I went.” –Lia

“WorkCamp didn’t only strengthen my faith in Christ, but it also taught me how much it means to have a relationship with God.” –Michael

“Thank you so much for a great experience; I’ll definitely make time to come next year, even if I am turning 18 that week, because it will be better with God having him near me during that.” –Karen

“I learned about how my service can impact my own life rather than just how it can impact another’s.” –Kevin

“I love going to daily Mass, it helps me feel like I am ready to start the day.” –Gretchen

“The most helpful part of the week was Confession and Adoration – a priest gave me a card for the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which was really cool!” –Megan

“I love WorkCamp! It gives me hope and inspires me to evangelize.” –Casey

“Best experience of my life.” –Macy

“My resident had a big impact on me. She was a living example of our theme to ‘love courageously.’” –Teresa

“I have a greater desire to live my life more for Christ and live more simply.” –Abigail

“WorkCamp has been a powerful experience throughout my high school years. I am lucky to have been able to attend all four years. Thank you.” –RJ

“WorkCamp opens my eyes and I definitely plan to work on being a better friend, deepening my relationship with Christ, and doing more work for the poor.” –Sarah

For 25 years, WorkCamp has helped teens serve the poor in our community. However, perhaps more importantly, it’s through the service, prayer, and community of WorkCamp that young people discover the joy of living a life for Christ.

 

All photos courtesy of Gerald Martineau.

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

**EDITOR’S NOTE: This column originally ran in the Arlington Catholic Herald (view it here). It serves as a reminder to us to continue praying for religious liberty, especially since the Diocese of Arlington will be celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom tomorrow, June 28, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Herndon. For more information, please see the Facebook event at on.fb.me/1lPC1PF. **

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More – Patron Saint of the Diocese of Arlington

Freedom to Serve is the theme for the third annual “Fortnight for Freedom,” June 21–July 4. I join my brother bishops in urging you to participate in this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action devoted to upholding religious freedom at home and abroad.

What does it mean to be truly free? Who or what can make us free? For whom are we seeking freedom this Fortnight? I suggest three emphases that can illuminate the meaning and significance of authentic religious freedom: truthfulness, heroic witness in Christ, and vigilance.

The Gospel of John relates that as Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he was harassed by those who resisted the truth that He was revealing. Jesus assured those who believed in h
im: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jn 8:32). Truth is not simply factual data. It is essential because it expresses what is in accord with the nature of persons, things, and actions as they really are. Jesus did not hesitate to tell the truth in love and chose to identify Himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

In his series of audiences on Theology of the Body, Saint John Paul II explained how the opening chapter of Genesis celebrates the splendor of a free creation and the original design of God for human happiness. He describes what occurred when those at the fountainhead of humanity sinned, violating their relationship with God and one another. The effects reverberated throughout the world. Fundamentally, all sin is deceptive, seeming to promise happiness while undermining what is genuinely truthful and good. As Genesis relates, Adam and Eve, in their unhappy shame for what they had done, tried to lie even to God!

Whenever there is an attempt to subvert the truth about the reality of God, or the meaning of life and creation, freedom is lost. Respect for the true nature of people and things gives way to domination and the struggle to control people and events by force and legal fiats. Of ourselves, we cannot achieve or maintain freedom. We have just completed an intensified liturgical celebration of our Redemption in Jesus Christ and have sacramentally experienced how Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the life,” has indeed set us free.

The martyrs, and all who live a heroic witness to the truth in the midst of a world disfigured by sin, inspire and assist us as we enter the Fortnight for Freedom, which does not come without cost. We are accompanied by those who have been willing to suffer, even die, for the truths in Christ that make us free. Saint Paul encouraged the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).

How privileged we are to have Saint Thomas More the principal patron of our diocese! Under duress, he remained faithful to the truth of divine and ecclesial realities rather than yield to the force of an earthly king. Although condemned to death, Thomas More, like Christ, was truly free and faithful. After his sufferings in the Tower of London, Thomas joked with the man assigned to be his executioner, who would drop the sharp-edged blade on his neck. In a later age, the poet Paul Claudel, would honor such inner freedom in his admonition: “To mount the cross laughing.”

A third way to increase understanding of religious freedom is accurate knowledge of dangers to religious liberty in our nation and throughout the world. In a word — vigilance. Laws, mandates, and judges’ decisions are requiring actions that violate the truth of the human person and override principles of moral responsibility. For example, institutions and agencies that provide health care, serve immigrants, or enable the adoption of children are threatened with severe penalties or closure for refusing to perform services that violate the truths of sexuality and marriage. Business owners seeking exemptions from governmental directives that violate their consciences are facing crippling fines. Protecting religious freedom to be of service to others, especially to those who are in most need, without losing moral integrity, is urgently needed.

And so, as we once again mark these ongoing challenges with a Fortnight for Freedom, I urge you to participate in a tangible way, to inform yourselves, to advocate, to pray and to sacrifice. This is no small matter because our ability as Catholics to participate in civil society as full citizens is threatened, with directs impacts on the vital works of charity the Church performs. I am marking the Fortnight in a particular way on June 28th from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Joseph’s Church in Herndon, as I host a diocesan event explaining clearly our concerns regarding religious liberty and providing for intercessory prayer. Speakers include Catholic University of America President John H. Garvey in what promises to be an informative and meaningful gathering, and I urge you to join me if at all possible. We must be free to serve others as Jesus Christ has mandated us to do!

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

I wanted to take a moment to write to you about the continuing challenges to the nation’s traditional understanding and legal recognition of marriage. Indeed, due to activist lawsuits here in Virginia, the issue is more pressing than ever, and the Commonwealth may stand on the brink of a forced, dramatic and far-reaching break with history and Church teaching with regard to the definition of this basic building block of families and communities.

Eight years ago, the will of the people of Virginia was expressed clearly and decisively as citizens cast their ballots to safeguard in the state constitution the age-old definition of marriage as between one woman and one man. At that time, along with Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, I wrote to you about “the unique and vital role the institution of marriage has in society” and how the result of the referendum would have “profound significance for the future of the family, the most fundamental social structure of our society.” We noted that marriage “had a design and purpose long before any nation, religion, or law was established,” and that “the proper role of both church and state is one of stewardship, to preserve our Creator’s great gift of marriage from one generation to the next.” Now, these words are all the more true as the challenge seems ever greater.

March for Marriage LogoIn the time since the vote here in Virginia, when only Massachusetts, under pressure by state court order, had redefined its marriage law, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marriage between individuals of the same sex. It is true, we have seen public opinion shift to some degree under the relentless advocacy of those who would change marriage from its basic meaning and purpose. This is all the more reason for us to make the case for marriage and its importance to children, society, and, yes, God’s plan for us.

St. John Paul II spoke of the transcendent role of marriage this way:

“In a marriage, a man and a woman pledge themselves to one another in an unbreakable alliance of total mutual self-giving. A total union of love.

Love that is not a passing emotion or temporary infatuation, but a responsible and free decision to bind oneself completely, ‘in good times and in bad,’ to one’s partner. It is the gift of oneself to the other.

The love of husband and wife in God’s plan leads beyond itself, and new life is generated, a family is born. The family is a community of love and life, a home in which children are guided to maturity.”

And Pope Francis affirms this basic teaching:

“Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple,” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” n. 66).

These words truly convey the Lord’s plan for those called to marriage. It is the ideal, yes, and one we pray that all who enter into this union may achieve. Of course, there are failings sadly visible all around us — adultery and high rates of divorce, broken and suffering families — but that does not change the intrinsic worth of marriage and family willed by the Lord and proclaimed by the Church. Further, we know that traditional marriage bolsters society and is best for children. The social science is clear that children do best when raised by a mother and father in a stable marriage.

I know that some of you have resigned yourselves to the redefinition of marriage, or perhaps are not convinced that defending the true definition of marriage is essential to the well-being of society, but I urge you, by example and prudent and thoughtful words, to stand for marriage at this critical time in our history. This is a fight worth having, and the time is now! As I wrote to you when we voted on marriage here in Virginia, “Preserving and promoting marriage is an integral component of our shared civic responsibility.”

Finally, I would encourage you to participate in the March for Marriage 2014 in Washington, D.C., being held this year on June 19th. The unchanging reality of marriage is being tested right now, perhaps to the point of no return, and our diocesan participation is very necessary. To learn more, go to http://www.marriagemarch.org.

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This column first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

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By: Sister Clare Hunter

Why is a nun writing about pornography? Because I just spent the past three of four days learning about how it is destroying our culture and promoting sex trafficking and sexual abuse of children. I repeat — causing the sexual abuse of children. Children. Being used. By adults. For sex[1]. I am furious!  It was poor timing. I had not realized, when saying “yes” to the Friday through Saturday conference “Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation,” Coalition-End-Sexual-Exploitationthat Monday was the morning study day at the Chancery on sex trafficking in Northern Virginia, as well as the effects of pornography on our culture. I’m angry, disgusted, overwhelmed, and would actually like to physically harm those using, selling, and promoting pornography of all kinds, especially the large number of those using child pornography. Hey, novelty sells. That’s what the statistics and experts say. Vomit.

Do you know what is going on? Honestly, I really didn’t want to know. I wanted to stay in my bubble. I knew it was bad, but when I realized that we were no longer in the tame, “normal” world of the Playboy mansion. An 11-year-old boy (the average age when a child sees porn ranges from 10-12; look it up) will immediately enter a “hardcore” porn site when surfing the internet on his computer, or most likely on his cell phone.

If 87 percent of men and 31 percent of women are using pornography[2], (50 Shades of Grey, not included) then it is in YOUR home, YOUR workplace, YOUR school, YOUR family.  News reports constantly remind us that women and children are being used for sex and labor around the world. But it is happening here, in our own country, our neighborhoods, and families. We know this, and we don’t even need this week’s news “McLean student behind underage porn site,” to remind us. I know you know it is bad.

Here are some resources I think might be helpful. At least a start!

  • Let us begin with prayer!

Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Saint Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity. Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity. And when the “Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me” in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.

Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.

  • Effects of pornography on the brain (10 times more addictive than heroin!), Donald Hilton, M.D.
  • Prevent teen sex trafficking in Northern Virginia – Just Ask
  • Protect your family and yourself! Covenant Eyes accountability and filtering
  • Read Bishop Paul Loverde’s letter “Bought with a Price
  • Learn more and get help at the Catholic Diocese of Arlington

[1] Wolak, Mitchell and Finkelhor. Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later. Alexandria, VA. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 2006.

[2] Carroll, Jason S., et al. “Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Adolescent Research 23.1 (2008) 6-30. (Study examined population of emerging adults, aged 18-26)

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As the Cardinals prepare for the serious duties of entering the Conclave and choosing the next Supreme Pontiff, the idea of having a new Holy Father any day now is exciting, but also has led us to reflect on the last papacy. We thank Pope Emeritus Benedict for his selfless service to the Church and pray for God’s will to be done in choosing our new Pope. Today, the Diocese of Arlington’s Communications team will reflect on the legacy of His Holiness Benedict VXI, Pope Emeritus, and relate how he personally touched our lives. Please feel free to discuss how Benedict influenced your faith in the comments below.

Seeing Benedict strolling the grounds of Castel Gandolfo makes me realize how influential he was to me as a young Catholic and how his particular style of communication compelled me to delve deeper into my faith. I had hesitations about his election; the media described him as “God’s Rottweiler,” after all. How could I connect on a personal level to someone I perceived as a staunch and rigid Cardinal; we disagreed on modern issues from rock and roll to Harry Potter! I didn’t really feel he was the right person to lead the Church during such uncertain times, especially not when the very principles of the Church were being ridiculed by society and media as bigoted and uncharitable. I thought that such a dogmatic and unyielding leader, in my opinion, couldn’t bring the Church together. Yet that was exactly what Benedict did.

popeEven so, I was happy to have a Pope from Germany, the country of my heritage, and it was particularly delightful to see him in Rome, where, for the first time, I began to read his writings and was amazed at his deep love and invitations to everyone from saint to sinner. Seeing him celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass after reading his encyclical Deus Caritas Est helped me to remove the beam from my own eye in order to see more clearly and without negative judgments. In his papacy, Benedict strove to connect to Catholics, especially young adults, and constantly surprised us by adopting new communications platforms like Twitter. He was one of the oldest elected Popes, but his messages weren’t outdated and his efforts were robust. Even to the end of his papacy, Benedict constantly reached out towards his Church and encouraged us through love. His papacy was, especially for me, inspiring and renewing as he guided the Church back to Christ. “Love is possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present Encyclical” (Deus Caritas Est, 39).

-Kathleen Yacharn

My clearest memory of Pope Benedict XVI is burned into my memory – partly because I was literally getting burned in the sun while waiting for a Papal Audience to begin. While I had the blessing of being able to see and hear Pope Benedict a number of times while I was in graduate school at a Pontifical University in Rome for several years, on this day I was sitting up on a dais only 15 feet from the Holy Father.

Why did I get to sit up front with the dignitaries and VIPs? Because my well-connected friend knew that on that very day my grandmother was being buried in the United States and that I was the only family member unable to be at her funeral.  You see, he knew my affection for Benedict – a wise shepherd who was like a scholarly, loving grandfather. I was continually struck by our former pope’s clarity in teaching, his obvious humility and his simple love for God and for beauty. That day I couldn’t be with my earthly family, but I felt so intimately the connection with the Church as I sat at the feet of the Holy Father.

At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict gave the audience attendees and their families a blessing. My grandmother always said that she thought that Heaven would look like St. Peter’s. But on that day, with the always sincere Pope Benedict extending his blessing to my grieving parent, siblings and cousins, St. Peter’s looked like home and the Holy Father seemed like family.
-Caitlin Bootsma

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Six men are in the middle of their first year of studies as seminarians for the Diocese of Arlington. Along with 32 others, these seminarians are immersed in their discernment process, while also studying philosophy and theology and serving at many of our parishes.

Three of the seminarians were asked to share with us what their memorable experiences have been thus far in their formation. Don’t forget to keep them in your prayers as they listen to God’s calling for their lives. Find out more about Vocations in the Diocese of Arlington at www.arlingtonvocations.com.

koehr_seanSean Koehr: “My most rewarding experience in the seminary so far was going on an evangelization mission to Ball State University with my brother seminarians.  Trying to actively participate in the new evangelization enabled me to see the fruits of prayer and study in just a short period of time and it made me hungry for more.  Putting what I am learning into practice by striving to live it and communicate it to others has been a great source of growth and clarity for me.

“Arlington is special because of its youth-filled and zealous priests, as well as its many well-formed and well-educated lay people, who come from strong and generous families.  There is also a great devotion amongst them all for Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament of confession, and a great love for Mary.”

majewski_jamesJames Majewski: “I will never forget the day I was told that Bishop Loverde had accepted my application to seminary. To be asked by Christ through His Church to embark upon the journey of priestly formation was an affirmation unlike any other – the consolation of which has truly stayed with me through my studies.

“Seminary life itself is a challenge! But it is such a tremendous blessing to have been accepted to seminary in the Year of Faith, and to be given the opportunity to deepen my faith through nearly every facet of life here. Seminary is so much more than just an education – Christ walks out of the classroom with you.

“Our Diocese has been tireless in fostering my vocation and helping me to discern. The Diocese of Arlington invests so much into her seminarians and future priests, and it is a privilege to be in a position to someday give back to the Diocese I have received so much from.”

schierer_nicholasNicholas Schierer: “40 Hours Devotion leading up to the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo was one of the most rewarding times as a seminarian so far.  For those three days, we had no classes and were able to simply pray during 40 continuous hours of adoration.

“To those who support vocations: Thank you for supporting us. I am praying for all of my benefactors. As seminarians, we are constantly in need to prayers to continue to recognize God’s Will in our continuing discernment of the priesthood.”

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I had an abortion in 1995. The next several years of my life seemed to be a series of one awful thing after the other, it became overwhelming. So many terrible things happened, I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

At first I wondered if God was punishing me. Then I realized I could blame God, or I could take responsibility for what I did. It was MY DECISION. God had nothing to do with it, nor did He “punish” me for what I had done. I was punishing myself!!

I had no idea I could be forgiven for such a grave sin. Even though I went to church, it seemed like the priest only talked about “respect for life”, and never spoke about being able to be forgiven after having an abortion. The guilt I felt on Mother’s Day and March for Life weekend at church was incredibly painful.

For many years I wanted to confess my sin, but was afraid … I would not even tell my cousin who is a priest.

Then one day (17 years later), I was in a restroom at a church I was visiting when I saw a paper that read “help after abortion.” As I went on reading the piece of paper that was taped to the wall, it said there is healing and forgiveness after abortion. Even after reading it I thought “Forgiveness??? Really???” At the bottom of the page were tabs to pull off and a phone number to call. I pulled one off, and even then, I was hesitant to call.

After a week or so, I called and spoke with Jo at the Diocese of Arlington. She was so supportive and positive. She told me about Rachel’s Vineyard [our diocesan retreat]. It sounded too good to be true. I signed up to attend the upcoming retreat.

That retreat turned my life around!!

I feel so blessed to have experienced the forgiveness of God, and my retreat was on Divine Mercy weekend. It was amazing. The priest we had at our retreat was a Father of Mercy, and he was such an empathetic, kind man. He was not the priest that was scheduled to be at our retreat, but God sent him to us, and he will stay in my heart forever. What a wonderful man.

The women I met there know more about me than friends I’ve known for years. We stay in touch and we all went to Mass together last month and had a luncheon. We are planning a get together around the Christmas holidays and there is a true bond between us. It’s absolutely wonderful.

I pray that more people who need healing and forgiveness learn about Project Rachel and attend a retreat. It will be the beginning of the rest of your life. You can be forgiven and you can heal. Just let God in. I realized God never meant for me to hurt for all those years, He never did anything to punish me. He loves us. We are His children. Remember, He said: “Come to me, all who are weary.”

Please go to Him if you are weary and He will give you peace. God Bless You.

Note: There is a Project Rachel retreat occurring in Northern Virginia, November 2-4. There are still open spaces if you or someone you know is in search of healing after an abortion.

Diocesan Post-Abortion Ministry provides referral to specially trained priests and/or professional counselors, healing retreats and written materials. For confidential assistance please call 1-888-456-HOPE (4673) or email info@helpafterabortion.org.

 

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